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This issue of LONTAR presents speculative writing from and about Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Laos, the Philippines, Indonesia and Korea.

This issue of LONTAR is published and distributed by Epigram Books in Singapore.Inside these pages, you’ll find:

  • a remembrance of ghostbusters disguised as lion dancers by Zen Cho;
  • an expedition to hunt a supernatural tiger in colonial Singapore by Manish Melwani;
  • the subversive power of jazz in a future North Vietnam by TR Napper;
  • a cautionary tale of writing one’s perfect lover into existence by Vida Cruz;
  • the relationship between death and a mysterious delivery truck by James Penha;
  • a fateful meeting of the last two Eurasians in Singapore by Melissa De Silva;
  • a critical appreciation of the novels of Eka Kurniawan by Tiffany Tsao;
  • a comic on schoolyard bullying and redemption by Elvin Ching;
  • and speculative poetry by Bryan Thao Worra, Zeny May Recidoro, Brandon Marlon, Subashini Navaratnam, Russ Hoe, Christina Sng, Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé, and Cyril Wong.



七星鼓 (Seven Star Drum) [READ]
   Zen Cho

The Four Deaths of Taylor Ngo
   TR Napper

Blind Date
   Melissa De Silva

Candlenut Farm
   James Penha

Ink: A Love Story
   Vida Cruz

The Tigers of Bengal
   Manish Melwani



This Island, New Laos
   Bryan Thao Worra

Eden and Our Habits
   Zeny May Recidoro

The Sultan’s Tent

   Brandon Marlon

The organisation sends a suicide bomber with their best regards
   Subashini Navaratnam

In His Own Words
   Russ Hoe

Une Nouvelle Vie
Ichthyosaur Birth

   Christina Sng

from “The Anti-Art Anti-Evolution of Manic Piggy Dream Gurrl”
   Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé

The Other Universe
   Cyril Wong



In Suspicion of Beauty: On Eka Kurniawan [READ]
   Tiffany Tsao


Sequential Art

   Elvin Ching


Extract from “七星鼓 (Seven Star Drum)”

It had happened when he was seven. It was Chinese New Year and for once his parents hadn’t gone hiking on some spirit-soaked mountain. They were in Ipoh, where Boris’s grandmother lived. His parents were buying kuih from a street-side hawker stall when Boris realised there was a man at the end of the street whom he should not look at.

Boris had learnt not to seem frightened, no matter how much his heart shook and his breath stuttered. But his eyes stopped seeing; his mouth went dry. Because he refused to turn around he was not sure what the man looked like, but out of the corner of his eyes he saw the inhuman blue tufts of hair. He smelt the stale exhalations of the undead.

He must be calm. The man had not yet realised that Boris could see him.

Seeing ghosts was not really the problem. The problem was when they looked back.

“Ma,” he whimpered.

Boris’s tough, hearty parents ignored him:

“I’m getting the pisang goreng,” said his mother. “You know your favourite? You wait first lah. Mummy will get for you.”

Boris could not help himself. He looked.

He was wrong after all. It was only shaped like a man. When you had a proper look at it, it was not much like a man.

The thing looked back.

Nobody told Boris what happened when ghosts realise you can see them, but he knew it on a bone-deep level. He had escaped horror many times in his short life, but somehow he knew this time was different.

The thing started moving towards him, in a spiky mechanical shamble. Boris could not move or cry out, though doing that had saved him before. He was frozen. He knew his doom was upon him, that fate was about to touch him on the face.

That was when he heard the drum.